How to make DIY Bird Seed Ornaments by: Rebecca Pitts
It’s funny how sometimes, it can feel as though the simplest of exercises becomes a thing–you know, getting a parking ticket when you were just running in to pick up that last ingredient for the recipe you had actually prepped for, days ago — only to return home and realize you actually had it on hand in the first place. Well, that’s exactly how this simple DIY unfolded–it tripped me up again and again, even though it’s truly so straightforward that a toddler could almost manage it entirely on her own.
Let me go back. I was initially struck with the idea to make homemade birdseed ornaments weeks ago when I saw a friend in Boston share photos on Facebook of her and her daughter stringing these edible hangings from the trees, set in a wintry scene in her backyard. My nostalgia was evoked and I was instantly transported to my childhood memories of doing the same during the long, cold Northeast winters.
After a quick perusal on Pinterest, I discovered that there are multiple methods for making birdseed ornaments: peanut-butter, gelatin, and coconut oil are generally your choices for the solidifying element.
My first instinct was to go healthy for our flying friends. (Gelatin? Isn’t that made from cow hooves?) We had to go with the coconut oil. And then I found myself heating said oil to boiling on a play date with three kids under five. I am fairly certain I found myself yelling DANGER more than once. After things had cooled down, the kids enjoyed the hands-on experience of mixing the seed and oil together, so much so that they were slathered in it, in a matter of seconds.
We were in it, though, and getting messy is part of the experience of making. (My kitchen table is a testament to this fact.) But I could see very quickly that we had a problem–as the children formed the mixture into molds, I could tell that nothing was sticking properly and that the coconut oil didn’t have enough staying power. But it had only one job: to stick together! And, guys, it wasn’t happening.
And then, to top things off, a hasty clean-up created a bit of a situation in our kitchen sink–let’s just say I hope it was our first and last coconut oil clog. All in all, the whole thing was a bit of a disaster: I sent our young guest home smelling like a tropical resort, our sink was busted, and the birds had to go next door for their dinner.
To use my preschooler’s metric for the passage of time, we were back at it a few ‘sleeps’ later. (I needed a cooling down period.) This time, we went with the box of Knox gelatin. (The recipe I’m including below reflects this far more manageable option.) Alas, this version may not be fortified with an exotic superfood, but the ornaments do the thing they’re supposed to do–stick together and hang. Which is a nice way of summing up our entire experience of trial and error, blunder and success. Through it all, we kept at it, together, until we got it right in the end.
How to make Birdseed Ornaments (Adapted from this recipe)
1. Hide the coconut oil from the children.
2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place 8-10 cookie molds, depending on their size on top of the paper.
3. Boil 1.5 cups of water.
4. Mix in 4 packets of gelatin (one box of Knox gelatin, available in the baking aisle) until the clumps have dissolved.
5. Pour in 4 cups of birdseed. Mix together.
6. Pour the birdseed / gelatin mix into the molds.
7. Using a dowel, create a hole toward the top of each shape, being sure to poke all the way through the other side
8. Cool in the fridge for an hour or two.
9. Remove from the fridge. Unstick the ornaments from the paper and let them dry out for several hours.
10. Remove the ornaments from the molds in the morning and string them with wire or twine.
Rebecca Pitts writes and makes stuff for kids and kids at heart. She is the founder and creative behind Hudson + Daughter and a contributor at Dear Handmade Life.